How do you feel about those were different from you? The first reading describes a group of people were commended for the ways in which they have welcomes the stranger. How do you really feel about strangers? People who think differently than we do, perhaps speak a different language than we do, with different customs and we have, are often times those individuals who are not easy for us to immediately warm up to.
And yet I can’t get off my mind when I hear the word stranger, the words of Jesus. “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” These words stay with me, because they are so important for us to hear.
So often however, we have difficulty with the stranger, because we cannot imagine life for the stranger. I have had this experience of being a stranger. That is, the experience of being a stranger in a different place, in a different land, where I was the one who was different. I had an experience of being the only white person in a supermarket or everyone else was a person of color. I’ve lived in a country that was not my home. So often, when we have difficulty with other persons, it is because we cannot place ourselves in their shoes.
I think of this when I think of the immigration debate that rages in our country. So often the issue is not immigration at all. It is rather, what will happen to me? How will all of these people who are coming from some other place, how will they impact my life? What will be different? What have they come to take from me? Did they want from me?
We must not let fear stand in our way of serving Jesus. Well the translation has become slightly different, when I think of fear, I think of the quote that is part of the Gospel of Mark, I think when Jesus is curing the Centurion’s daughter. The translation used to read, “fear is useless. What is needed is trust.” We need to have faith that if the person of Jesus comes into our life as a stranger, we will have the dignity and the grace of a relationship with Jesus that can help us to see the dignity of the stranger, to be the one who welcomes Jesus.